A new ultrasound technique called breast harmonic imaging can be successfully used to diagnose hard-to-see breast cysts, thus eliminating the need for some biopsies,
according to a study presented at a recent American Roentgen Ray Society meeting
held in Seattle, Washington.
The studywhich involved 30 patients with 117 breast cystsfound that
harmonic imaging provides higher resolution and better detail of small cysts or
cysts that are deeper in the breast than can be detected by conventional
ultrasound, said Derek Muradali, MD, of the University Health Network and Mount
Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.
Patients in the study underwent a conventional ultrasound examination and a
harmonic imaging examination. Two radiologists reviewed the conventional
ultrasound images and the harmonic images and found that the harmonic images
were "superior to conventional ultrasound" in 80% of cases. The
radiologists did not know which images were conventional or harmonic when they
made their assessment.
Future Standard of Care?
"Harmonic imaging is now available on some ultrasound machines, and we
simply flip a switch on the machine to change to the harmonic image," said
Dr. Muradali. Harmonic imaging has been used in the past, but it is only
recently that the linear transducers used in breast ultrasound have become
available for use in harmonic imaging.
Harmonic imaging will likely become the standard of care for patients with
cysts that are difficult to diagnose with conventional ultrasound, said Dr.
Muradali. "In the past, we’ve been obliged to biopsy small cysts or those
deep in the breast, because conventional ultrasound hasn’t provided the detail
needed to accurately diagnose them. Harmonic imaging provides us with the means
to avoid doing those biopsies." This saves the patient and the physician
time, effort, and money, said Dr. Muradali.